“My favorite thing in the world is a box of fine European chocolates which is, for sure, better than sex.” The daughter of British emigrants working in the San Francisco Bay area as a Pan Am flight attendant and a real estate agent, Alicia Silverstone was born on American soil on October 4, 1976 but spent most of her summers with her parents in England where she was introduced to the wonderful world of theatre. In her native California, Silverstone was only six years old when she started modeling with her blonde hair and cherub face earning her a prized spot in the television commercial for Domino’s Pizza. Not yet old enough to take the opportunity too seriously, Silverstone continued her studies at Crocker Middle School before a junior high play changed everything.
“My dad would take us to see tons of theatre and that’s where my love of acting really started,” Silverstone said of her childhood. “When I was in junior high school, he saw me in a school play and thought, ‘Wow, she’s got something. I need to get her into an acting class.’ I was probably very shy at first and a little narcoleptic. Like, I would fall asleep anything got weird or tense. But, then one day, it just sort of clicked.”
As things clicked into place, Silverstone was 16 years old when she made her television debut as Fred Savage’s dream girl in an episode of The Wonder Years in 1992. The following year, she became a teen idol when she was cast as the star of The Crush and took home two MTV Movie Awards for Best Breakthrough Performance and Best Villain. Luckily, the awards only sweetened the deal for Silverstone whose performance caught the attention of director Marty Callner who was searching for a young woman to star in his next music video for Aerosmith’s hit single “Cryin.” Silverstone was just the girl as her risqué performance in The Crush landed her spots in music videos for “Amazing” and “Crazy,” not to mention earning her the nickname “the Aerosmith chick.”
“I didn’t feel uncomfortable, I was just being,” Silverstone said of her overly sexual performance in The Crush and the music videos. “I know The Crush was a very serious acting role for me and I fought hard to get it. I didn’t think of it as sexual at all. I didn’t feel like I was going out there and shaking my booty. In the Aerosmith videos, when Marty Callner, the director, and I talked about doing ‘Crazy,’ the one with Liv Tyler, we plotted it out together. Right away I said: ‘I’m not going to strip. I’ll be the man.’”
By the 1990s, Silverstone was well established as a budding star in Hollywood but had a minor setback in 1994 when she was skipped over for the starring role in My So-Called Life. However, bigger things were in store the following year when filmmaker Amy Heckerling cast her as the wealthy and superficial Cher Horowitz in Clueless. With a string of production companies passing over the film, Clueless wasn’t expected to do well at the box office, which made it an even bigger surprise when it earned rave reviews from critics and brought in $56 million at box offices across the country. The 19-year-old Silverstone was finally a star.
“I was young and I thought it was really overwhelming and it was really intense,” Silverstone said of her seemingly overnight stardom. “I did a bunch of movies and then nine movies later, I did Clueless. When it’s like, ‘That’s Alicia Silverstone!’ everywhere I went, it was a lot for a little person. But then life goes on and you figure it out.”
With Clueless forever changing her life, Silverstone expertly managed her newly earned celebrity status with roles in direct to video films like True Crime and The Babysitter before landing another feature film in 1997 when she was cast as Batgirl opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney and Chris O’Donnell in Batman & Robin. The film tanked at the box office and marked Silverstone’s final days as an A-list actress as she turned her attention to other passions like theater and activism. “I was just a theater kid. I never wanted to be in movies or TV,” Silverstone admitted amid her growing fame as an animal and environmental activist. “I decided I would use my fame to spotlight something that is very meaningful to me. I went on a quest to change the world, to make things better—for children, for the earth, for animals. I wasn’t paying attention to my career, I was paying attention to something else.”
Realizing she could enjoy both activism and acting, Silverstone has managed to fit all of her passions into her life especially now that she’s settled down with her husband, rocker Christopher Jarecki, and their son, Bear Blu, at their eco-friendly home in Los Angeles, California. But, PETA’s former “Sexiest Female Vegetarian” hasn’t stopped there as she’s adopted a completely vegan lifestyle, which she shares in her two books—The Kind Diet and The Kind Mama—as well as on her website, The Kind Life.
Kindness also sums up the 41-year-old’s approach to her acting career especially now that she’s returned to the spotlight with projects like Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, The Killing of a Sacred Deer, and The Tribes of Palos Verdes in 2017. Set to star in the highly anticipated TV Land series American Woman in 2018, Silverstone continues to prove she still has what it takes as she’s finally settled into her career as an actress, activist, wife and mother. “I can happily have a husband and a child and a life,” Silverstone says, “and I get to contribute in a really meaningful way to the world and I also get to be an actress. And that’s a wonderful thing to be.” How grown-up from a woman once known for spouting “As if!” to her frenemies in one of the most popular flicks of the 1990s!